Introduction into Fiji time

Trip Start Sep 05, 2007
Trip End Sep 05, 2008

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Flag of Fiji  ,
Saturday, November 24, 2007

When we arrived into Nadi airport I was tired. Insanely tired. It felt like I was the only person on that flight who wasn't asleep. I spent ten hours trying to figure out where my 8th November went. But I was snapped out of my zombie trance by the greeting we received. Four guys in loud shirts with even bigger smiles playing native songs. I couldn't help but smile. A great welcome. It wouldn't be the last.
Before we left L.A we decided not to spend any unnecessary time on the main island. I'd heard that Nadi was a bit on the rough side, and Suva, the capital, was still not politically stable following a recent military coup. So we arranged to go to a resort on one of the Mamanuca Islands to the west, Malolo. The resort, Funky Fish, sorted out all our transport to the island. A bus from the airport and two boats later we were there. Hassle free.
My actual first impression of the place was that it was too rough for my liking. The boat we turned up on was lucky to have made it without sinking. The guy driving it looked like an escaped mental patient. We were picked up from the boat and taken to the rooms by tractor. All in the stifling heat with no a/c in sight. As it turned out though, it was everything we had hoped it would be, and more. We had an amazing time. It was the most relaxed I have ever been in my life. The staff we so friendly and became more like friends. We met some great people over our two weeks. People that we really got on well with and hope to keep in touch with. Even an Irish couple from Elly's birthplace, Navan. So we had a lot in common and got on great. After living in each other's pockets for over two months it was a welcome relief to speak at length with other people.
One of the girls staying there described it as like being in rehab. I don't think I can describe it any better. There wasn't many people staying there. the most at any one time was 12, and the least was 5. All of a similar age. Different backgrounds, but lots in common. It was small, but that made the personal touch and feel to the place really stand out. Everyone knew your name and wants to chat with you.
The only way on and off the resort is by organised boat. There is no shop. It's three square meals a day at set times. So everyone eats together with nothing like T.V for a distraction. It forces conversation which is a good thing. It's hard to describe it fully. I suppose only those who were there knew how it felt. The locals called it 'Fiji time'.
It wasn't all lying in hammocks all day though. They put on activities every day. If you wanted to do them then great, if not no worries. I think we managed a good balance of fun and chilling in the blissful sunshine.
One of the first things we did was partake in a Kava ceremony. The locals say that if you go to Fiji and don't partake in a Kava ceremony then you haven't been to Fiji at all. I could write pages on the history, tradition, and intricacies of the Kava ceremony. It was something I feel privileged to have been taught about and experienced. I was fascinated. I won't go into it, but basically Kava is the grounded root of a local tree and mixed with water to make a drink. It was the focal point of ceremonies in villages and tribes across Fiji. It is still used in that way today, but is now more commonly used socially as it is a relaxant. They described it as something to help them sleep after a hard day. This wouldn't be my last taste of Kava during our time in Fiji.
As you'd imagine, water sports are big. Anything thinkable in or on the sea is freely available. We went snorkeling and fishing a couple of times. The snorkeling was unreal. To do it in the tropics is something else. More vivid colours in one place than I thought was possible. As for the fishing, well it turns out that Elly is a pro. On our second trip she caught four fish. All good sizes too. The staff cooked two of them up that night and were amazing. Me, well lets just say that I caught one less than one.
My two favourite things we did while on Malolo were what you could call a little less touristy. Firstly, one of the guys who worked for Funky Fish took us to a local village on the other side of the island. It has about 600 inhabitants, and was a real eye opener. Joe, our guide, had got a message across to his cousin who lives there to inform them of our arrival. When we got there all these women started laying out rugs onto the sand and putting down jewelery and souvenirs etc. We bought a couple of things. The way I saw it was, buy a couple of things, and your welcome to look round the village. That was the impression. Which is fair enough. It had a specific layout. Nicer homes, or 'bures', nearer the beach as well as center pieces like the church and the chief's bure. The further you went into it the less people had. But to be honest, it wasn't quite as poverty stricken as I'd imagined. The tourist dollar is definitely making its way there. We were proof I suppose.
Secondly, was our hike up to the Ulusilo Hill fort. The Hill fort was built as a lookout post by the British who were worried that the Spanish explores would find the Fijian Islands and try to stake a claim. It sits on top of Malolo's highest point in the middle of the island. We had tried to get up there a couple of times before. But the sun and heat was too much for us and we had to turn back. Luckily we got a cooler day with a touch of overcast but still with good visibility. It was perfect for us. It took over an hour of hard walking, but it was worth it. A good achievement. The views were amazing. You could see the other Islands in the Mamanuca group, the Yasawa Islands to the north, and the Main Island.
Before we knew it our two weeks were up and we had to say thank you very much, or vinaka vaka levu to Funky Fish. We decided to check out some of the other Islands in the Mamanuca group.......
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